How To Avoid Having Your Pants In Ankle-Town At The Judgment Prerelease

What common cards in Judgment should you be watching out for? How is it gonna change your strategy? Some free advice for a goofy format tomorrow.

Any time you play in a limited event, you know what you’re going up against. You’ve seen the cards available to your opponents, you’ve probably seen most of the cards in play before, so you know the interactions.

You know enough not to get caught with your pants down.


But a prerelease is different. Maybe you have looked over the spoiler… But that’s often not enough. You saw a card on the spoiler, and you know it’s gas. But did you consider its place amongst the rest of the set? Is it really the bomb you thought it would be? Does your butt really look big in that dress?


(Yes it does.)

So this is me, giving you some advice. So you don’t come home from the prerelease thinking,

“If only I had built my sealed deck this way.”

“Who would have though that card would be good?”

“Why do the green M&Ms make me so gut-wrenchingly ill?”

(Hmmm, I seem to do this every time a prerelease comes around, I might have to name it or declare it an institution of some kind.)

Anyhoo, this isn’t”How To Build A Sealed Deck 101″; The Ferrett will do an excellent one of those, no doubt; he always does. This is a guide to the cards that will define the decks that will be perched all high and mighty-like, on those top tables.

I will concentrate mostly on commons, and maybe a few uncommons – but only if they are good enough that if someone has it, they will play it kind of thing. I’m talking almost Shower of Coals quality here.

Remember too, that because this is a smaller card set, the commons are more likely to appear in greater numbers and/or multiples.

So without further ado,

(Because I’m quite prone to such nonsense…)

Battlewise Aven


Creature – Bird Soldier




Threshold – Battlewise Aven gets +1/+1 and first strike.

Without threshold, this is your every day, garden-variety flyer. But with, it will without a doubt, own the skies. I mean look at it; if it said on the card”becomes a 3/3 first striking flyer,” we’d be wetting ourselves to get it into the deck. It just happens to have too subtle a wording for such excitement. The other bonus is its exceedingly helpful casting cost. Don’t make the mistake of leaving this guy out; he can be that one-card splash in you otherwise two-color deck.

Lead Astray




Tap up to two target creatures.

Obviously not as powerful as the Battlewise Aven,

(Who appears to have a power cable permanently stuck up its butt – it’s that powerful.)

But this is a card that can catch you with your pants in ankle-town. Just be aware that your opponent may at some point tap two blockers and stick it to you like a post-it note.


Phantom Flock


Creature – Bird Soldier Spirit




Phantom Flock comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Flock, prevent that damage.

Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Flock.

It’s a 3/3 flyer.

It’s a 3/3 flyer that instead of dying to damage, becomes a 2/2 flyer, and so on. Of course, the drawback is, any smaller creature can pull it down in size, too. But that said, all it needs, and all any”Phantom” creature needs is some kind of creature enchantment that boosts its toughness and you have el-unkillable guy. But remember, this guy flies, so instead, he becomes”super el-unkillable guy.”

(If it turns out that the art on this card denotes it to be of a feminine nature, change that to”super el-unkillable chick” or something.)

Vigilant Sentry


Creature – Nomad



Threshold – Vigilant Sentry gets +1/+1 and gains”T: Target attacking or blocking creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.”

Um, owns combat like it found it on eBay, going cheap. Try to kill it before it tries to own you.

(But you’ll be able to tell that when you see it. This is more of a warning that you are likely to see this guy in and around those plains things.)

Mirror Wall


Creature – Wall



W: Mirror Wall may attack this turn as though it weren’t a wall.

Whenever I play with Dreamwinder, I wish long and hard that it was a 3/4 and not a 4/3. This is what I wished for. Sure, it doesn’t attack blue players – but if you’re playing white, and you might very well be at this prerelease, then you can attack anybody.

(Well, not the guy at the table next to you, but that would be stupid.)

Nothing like a nice fat wall to hold the ground for you, and with enough kick to bite anything that wants to sneak past it.



Creature – Incarnation




As long as Wonder is in your graveyard and you control an island, creatures you control have flying.

(Think”Falter” a bit more.)

So apart from the fact that it’s a 2/2 flyer, which is on most occasions going to be a pain in the neck and/or nether regions, if you kill it, all of their creatures gain flying. Nice. Any blue player with this will be more than happy to chuck it and fly over for the win. Much like the Battlewise Aven, this guy/bird/thing is worth splashing. But remember if you do splash it, you’ll need the appropriate basic land; an Odyssey filter land or sac land won’t help.

Wormfang Drake


Creature – Nightmare Drake




When Wormfang Drake comes into play, sacrifice it unless you remove a creature you control other than Wormfang Drake from the game.

When Wormfang Drake leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner’s control.

This is as beefy as the Mirror Wall – but it has flying too. The Drake is the best answer to Battlewise Aven, with the drawback of having to send one of your chumps to nightmare land. Once in a while, that drawback will bite you – but if it does, you can’t have been far from losing anyway.

The point is this: There is a large flyer available to both white and blue as a common, so you’ll see a lot of them. Be ready.

Toxic Stench




Target nonblack creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

Threshold – Instead destroy that creature. It can’t be regenerated.

Solid removal. Please don’t make me decide if I like this over Afflict, because I like Afflict more than I perhaps should. I guess trading not drawing a card for the threshold ability is pretty fair, if not fairly good. I would draft it very highly, and therefore would play it if I had it. Of course the point of mentioning it here is, don’t play dress-ups with your critters if you suspect your opponent may spoil the fun with their Toxic Stench.

(Hmmm, that reminds me: Shower before you go to the prerelease, or you’ll be on the receiving end of many”Toxic Stench” jokes.)

(Actually, shower before any event for everyone’s sake…)

Arcane Teachings


Enchant Creature


Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has”T: This deals one damage to target creature or player.”

Something to play dress-ups with, and something your opponents might well play dress-ups with. Don’t go doing what Johnny don’t does, and fill your sealed deck with one-toughness creatures.

(That’s a Simpsons quote, by the way, before you go thinking I’m accusing any Johnnies of being bad at building Sealed decks or something.)

Goretusk Firebeast


Creature – Beast



When Goretusk Firebeast comes into play, it deals 4 damage to target player.

This doesn’t appear to be too much of a good creature, but it fits the bill of”bad things that might happen,” so beware of the four-to-the-head guy.

Soulgorger Orgg


Creature – Nightmare Orgg



Trample. When Soulgorger Orgg comes into play, you lose all but 1 life. When Soulgorger Orgg leaves play, you gain life equal to the life lose when Soulgorger Orgg comes into play.

Kind of a reverse warning here: Don’t play this guy. Just don’t do it. You are a”no playing the Soulgouger Orgg” person. You would rather play Pokemon than play a Soulgouger Orgg in your sealed deck. Playing a Soulgouger Orgg causes baldness in men and women, and will make you sweat in an unattractive manner.

(Just in case you haven’t heard what I’m saying, do not play Soulgourger Orgg.)





Swelter deals two damage to each of two target creatures.

It’s a mini-Shower of Coals… But it’s splashable. Which means people will be splashing it onto your guys, left, right, and/or centre. Not as outright devastating as Shower of Coals, but probably a lot more widespread – and isn’t what all this is about? If anyone opens this uncommon, I think they’d be a fool not to play it.

Swirling Sandstorm




Threshold – Swirling Sandstorm deals 5 damage to each creature without flying.

It’s a Wrath – and those are good in Limited, especially when someone walks into it. For your sake, don’t walk into it.


Elephant Guide


Enchant Creature


Enchanted creature gets +3/+3.

When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, put a 3/3 green Elephant creature token into play.

If enchanting a creature is playing dress-ups, then this is setting up all your toy soldiers and stomping on them with a big elephant-sized soft toy. I think it’s actually a great reason to splash Aven Cloudchaser if you’re not already playing white. Seriously – would you have valued splashing that bird very highly if you hadn’t read that last sentence? If you splash the Cloudchaser and it saves your butt, drop me an email and tell me how much you love me.

(Think”platonic” only.)

Exoskeletal Armor


Enchant Creature


Enchanted creature gets +X/+X, where X is the number of creatures in all graveyards.

See? Another creature enchantment that may cause you untold amounts of grief.

Giant Warthog


Creature – Beast




Just beat this guy in mind before you decide not to play black for your Ghastly Demise and/or Toxic Stench. I’d splash it, too, if I were you.

(Um, just in case you don’t already realise, don’t play more than two colors plus a splash, or do something equally as stupid – like punching a police officer, or stealing the head judge’s lunch…)

Grizzly Fate




Put two 2/2 green Bear creature tokens into play.

Threshold – Instead, put 4 2/2 green Bear creature tokens into play.

Flashback 5GG

I feel this may play a bit like a Shower of Coals in reverse, giving you more creatures instead of taking away theirs. It certainly has a similar casting cost. But it’s the flashback – oh the flashback! – that makes this card a backbreaker. You’ll end up under a pile of bears if they have threshold when this hits.

Actually, if you saw this on the spoiler, you probably knew it was bad news for you. Just let me tell you now; it’s probably worse than that, it looks like a game winner to me. So what if I haven’t alerted you to anything new with this one? Bah, you people are never happy; I’ll be the one laughing when someone beats you with this card.


What should you do about it? I dunno, use you imagination.

(And I don’t mean closing your eyes and pretending they’re little itty bitty Snickers bars or anything as pathetic as that.)

Syncopate it or something. Swelter some of them, Swirling Sandstorm the lot of them, I don’t care. It’s not the end of the world, but it you will probably lose some games to this is you’re not careful, and maybe even some when you are.

Phantom Centaur


Creature – Centaur Spirit



Protection from Black

Phantom Centaur comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.

If damage would be dealt to Phantom Centaur, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Centaur.

See Giant Warthog.

Serene Sunset




Prevent all combat damage X target creatures would deal this turn.

A combat trick to look out for… As always.

Sudden Strength




Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn. Draw a card.

Good card economy; a bit better than Refresh, and that’s an underrated card. In this case it may be better to not call their bluff if they have that G and 3 open.

Tunneler Wurm


Creature – Wurm



Discard a card in your hand: Regenerate Tunneler Wurm.

Also see Phantom Centaur and Giant Warthog. Point? There will be big creatures.

Venomous Vines




Destroy target enchanted permanent.

It may not be a bad idea to run this card maindeck… But then again, it might. It’s definitely worth remembering as a sideboard card, and definitely worth remembering as an option available to your opponents. So spread those eggs throughout your baskets, or get Venomous Vined all the way to unhappinessville.

Nantuko Monastery



T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.

Threshold – GW: Nantuko Monastery becomes a 4/4 green and white creature with first strike until end of turn. It’s still a land.

You’ll see it coming, for sure… But also keep an eye on how far off threshold your opponent is, so it doesn’t leap out of the woods at you or anything. If it does, just say you’re on your way to your grandma’s with a basket of goodies, and hopefully some hunter-type person will shoot it at the end of the fairy-tale or something. Otherwise, you may wish to sideboard some land destruction. But it kinda sucks having a card in your deck that’s only really good versus one card in theirs.

(Well that last one was pretty pointless, as far as paragraphs go.)

So to recap:

  • There is a 5/5 trampler that’s common.
  • There is a mini-Shower of Coals.
  • There is a common”Wrath.”
  • There are large common flyers in both blue and white.
  • All of these are splashable, so you’ll see them a lot.
  • There are some quite useable creature enchantments that will probably cause you some difficulty, so consider the green 2/3 enchantment removal guy higher than you usually would.

(But Druid Lyrist is and always will be a weak and pathetic 1/1.)

(Ah, after looking it up, the 2/3 guy is called Nullmage Advocate.)

(And the card disadvantage won’t be that bad in the circumstances.)

(It’ll probably only be virtual card advantage anyway…)

(If you don’t know what virtual card advantage is, go look up EDT.)

  • Common blue 3/4s will make it harder for you to play an aggro deck successfully. And by an aggro deck, I mean the kind of sealed deck you open where you don’t have any choice but to play your fasted, crappiest creatures and hope your opponent gets a slow start.
  • There are some”Falter” effects to look out for.
  • Green can kill your enchanted permanent.
  • And quite a few of those things I mentioned are common, so you’re gonna see them again and again, maybe even 3 times in one deck.

(Don’t even consider the likelihood of someone getting three Swirling Sandstorms, and another foil one…)

Oh, and don’t eat the green M&Ms.

But most importantly…

…Have fun and play fair.




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